R U T H E R G L E N

STATE: VICTORIA 

SIZE OF REGION: 4.11 SQUARE KILOMETRES

NUMBER OF WINE PRODUCERS: 19

FAMOUS FOR: DURIF, MUSCAT, SHIRAZ

 

By Nancy Merlo

 

You’ll spot the “Big Wine Bottle” from a mile away – Rutherglen’s iconic 36 metre landmark is hard to miss and offers a rather large clue as to what you’ll find in this charming town. Located three hours’ drive north-east of Melbourne, Rutherglen is one of the oldest wine regions in Australia, dating back to the 1850s, and its family-owned wineries are best known for robust reds and decadent fortified wines. For a small region, Rutherglen punches way above its weight in the wine stakes and it has a food scene to match.

 

WHAT’S THE FOOD LIKE?

Ask any of the friendly locals where to go for dinner and the response is unanimous: go to Thousand Pound (thousandpound.com.au) wine bar and order a steak. It’s good advice and you won’t be disappointed. The place has an extensive wine list showcasing mostly local wineries and the only way to properly finish a meal here is with a cheeseboard and a glass of the region’s famous muscat (when in Rome).

 

All Saints Estate (allsaintswine.com.au) offers another fine dining option at its Terrace Restaurant, the area’s only hatted eatery.

 

CHECK IN

A five-minute drive from the town centre lies the newly restored Mount Ophir Estate (mountophirestate.com.au), which started out as a winemaking facility back in 1903 and today offers six types of accommodation. The original rustic homestead is beautiful but it’s The Tower suite for two that will make you want to move in. The luxurious French provincial three-storey tower is complete with a spiral staircase leading to a well-stocked reading room, where you could while away hours just relaxing and taking in views of the sprawling 140-acre vineyard – but then you’d miss out on all the eating and imbibing to be done. With Rutherglen’s wineries right on the doorstep, this is the ideal base from which to start exploring.